medicine in ancient egypt

Magicians, healers, healers or doctors. If there is anything that distinguishes the physician of ancient Egypt modern medical workers is use of magic. The doctor, like every Egyptian professional, gave himself into the hands of the gods to heal. In addition, they had their own deities associated with healing, life and various medical attributes. However, we have an example Imhotepprime minister of pharaoh Djoser (belonged to the Third Dynasty, 2664 BC), who, due to his great fame was deified a thousand years after his death as a god of medicine.

It was even said that Imhotep not only healed the sick, but also revived. Even the Greeks used their knowledge to create their own god of medicine. Asclepiuswhich the Romans called Aesculapius. But how did the “sanitary system” work in ancient Egypt?

Anyone who wanted to devote himself to the art of healing needed a degree in order to be able to practice. Earliest known Egyptian licensed physician hesi-re, from the Third Dynasty (2620 BC), in turn, the first specialized dentist. He, like many others, was called sumthat is, “one who corrects and heals.” Like scribes, doctors had their own school where they were taught through papyri with cases of illness and healing.

In addition, doctors were part of the Egyptian civil service, and although they constituted an independent class, they served the sick, who paid nothing for treatment. That is, They had free “health”, showing a striking resemblance to today’s Spanish healthcare spanning millennia. The retribution of doctors was carried out through taxes, like the rest of the activities under the control of the Egyptian state.


Everything we know about medicine in Egypt came from archaeological finds and papyri, which collect various treatments and diseases, many of which are classified according to organs and parts of the body. One of the most famous is Ebers papyrusthe name it takes from its discoverer Georg Ebers, which would undoubtedly have had a didactic function for students, with its 870 cases for all kinds of diseases.

Herodotus claimed that the Egyptians were most asked to work in other royal courts.

We have other papyri with the names of their discoverers: for example, Edwin Smith, which collects gynecological diseases and methods of birth control, Rammesseum, Chester-Beatty and the Carlsberg and Turi papyri. It should also not be forgotten that many sources already in classical times continue to praise Egyptian medicine, as indicated by the following words of Homer in Odyssey: “Egyptian doctors were more skilled than doctors from other countries.”, or Herodotus when he stated that the Egyptians were most asked to work in other royal courts such as Cyrus or Darius.

Egyptian style medical consultation

Before treating a patient the doctor conducted an interview to show him the pain he was experiencing and thus draw a conclusion. But the doctor was not the only intervener, he was accompanied by the priest of Sekhmet, the lioness goddess, guilty of diseases and epidemics, giving the gift of healing; and a conjurer In any case, the doctor helped himself with irrational powers such as spells and songs that invoked a large number of gods to try and save the patient.

Calling Imhotep, god of healing, Ernest Bond

They also relied on amulets such as ankh (Ansat cross), which, in addition to wearing them during life, could be more useful during treatment, at least they thought so. After the conversation, the doctor performed the treatment, which ranged from the laying on of hands to the actual operation, if necessary. But also they very often resorted to medicines and ointments. In cases where the disease was an incurable doctor and his companions, healing was given into the hands of the gods.

There were diseases such as cholera, leprosy, plague, smallpox, tuberculosis, and cancer that the Egyptians knew about but did not know how to defeat.

In some cases, although contrary to Egyptian law, it was permitted to leave the sick in the desert and let the gods decide their fate. There were diseases such as cholera, leprosy, plague, smallpox, tuberculosis, and cancer that the Egyptians knew about but did not know how to defeat and priests resorted to processions, exorcisms and prayers. What is clear is that most of the treatments they used did not work medically. However, there were some medications such as facet operation They used to be successful, and the technique has been used for centuries by the Greeks, Romans, and other Western nations.

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About Allen Whyte

I'm Allen Whyte, a writer for with 5 years of experience. I love bringing you the latest news and stories from around the world. Join me on this exciting journey as we explore the fascinating world we live in!

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